Dem guv hopefuls pledge fuel goals
Two candidates: 100 percent renewable by year 2040
President Donald Trump’s announcement last week that he would keep the nation out of the Paris Climate Accord has impacted next year’s race for governor, at least among Democrats.
While U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter said he would have Colorado join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a group of mostly Democratic states that intend to uphold the 2015 agreement, others in the race for the Democratic nomination are calling for dramatic increases in the state’s renewable energy standard.
Immediately after Trump’s announcement, former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy said she would seek legislation calling for public utilities to go to a 50 percent renewable energy standard by 2020, up from the current 30 percent.
Not to be outdone, former state Sen. Michael Johnston and U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, who jumped into the race over the weekend, are calling for a 100 percent standard by 2040.
“As our state booms with growth, and our federal government tries to turn the clock backward on the world’s hard-fought progress, Colorado is faced with a defining question,” Johnston said. “How can we grow Colorado in a way that protects what we love most about Colorado? This 100 by 40 standard will make Colorado a national leader in a new economy, grow more than 50,000 new jobs in the state, save us money on electricity bills and ensure Colorado remains the home of clear skies and clean water.”
Denver businessman Noel Ginsburg, another Democratic candidate seeking to replace term-limited Gov. John Hickenlooper, said that while renewable energy is the future, setting arbitrary goals years away is “a stretch” that amounts to nothing more than politicking.
Ginsburg said the issue isn’t a political one. “It’s easy to throw out percentages when you are 10 years, 20 years away from when we would hit those targets or not hit those targets,” Ginsburg said. “All of Colorado, wherever you live, we want a healthy clean environment. We have to balance that against where our economy is, where our energy resources are today and where technology will drive us in the future.”
While Xcel Energy, the state’s largest public utility, wouldn’t comment directly on the proposed higher standards, a spokeswoman there said the power company is already on track to exceed the current renewable energy standard by 10 percent.
“Xcel Energy’s track record demonstrates that we support renewable energy and we intend to keep moving forward with a low-priced, clean energy strategy that provides the economical, clean energy our customers want,” said Xcel spokeswoman Michelle Aguayo. “We ... anticipate having 41 percent renewable energy on the Xcel Energy system in Colorado by 2021, all the while keeping prices low. The addition of future generations must be in the best interests of our customers and what that percentage will be will need to be determined over time.”